Connecting to ARCHER2 and transferring data
OverviewTeaching: 30 min
Exercises: 15 minQuestions
How can I access ARCHER2 interactively and transfer data?Objectives
Understand how to connect to ARCHER2.
Know how to transfer data onto and off of ARCHER2 efficiently.
Connecting using SSH
The ARCHER2 login address is
Access to ARCHER2 is via SSH using both a password and a passphrase-protected SSH key pair.
Passwords and password policy
When you first get an ARCHER2 account, you will get a single-use password from the SAFE which you will be asked to change to a password of your choice. Your chosen password must have the required complexity as specified in the ARCHER2 Password Policy.
The password policy has been chosen to allow users to use both complex, shorter passwords and
long, but comparatively simple passwords. For example, passwords in the style of both
horsebatterystaple would be supported.
Picking a good password
Which of these passwords would be a good, valid choice according to the ARCHER2 Password Policy?
- No This would not be accepted or a good choice as it is too short and is made up of obvious words
- Yes This would be a good choice as it is long enough and easy to remember
- Yes This would be accepted but may be difficult to remember and type (though you could use a password manager to store it)
- No While this meets the criteria, it is a well known example from a popular web comic and so would not be accepted
As well as password access, users are required to add the public part of an SSH key pair to access ARCHER2. The public part of the key pair is associated with your account using the SAFE web interface. See the ARCHER2 User and Best Practice Guide for information on how to create SSH key pairs and associate them with your account:
Data transfer services: scp, rsync, Globus Online
ARCHER2 supports several data transfer mechanisms. The one you choose depends on the amount and structure of the data you want to transfer and where you want to transfer the data to. The three main options are:
scp: The standard way to transfer small to medium amounts of data (in the order of MBs or GBs) off ARCHER2 to any other location
rsync: Used if you need to keep small to medium datasets (in the order of MBs or GBs) synchronised between two different locations
- Globus Online: Used to transfer large amounts of data (in the order of TBs) to other sites which are Globus Online enabled
More information on data transfer mechanisms can be found in the ARCHER2 User and Best Practice Guide:
Data transfer best practice
Information on how to transfer data efficiently using the above methods is available in the ARCHER2 documentation. Nevertheless, here are the main points you should consider:
- Not all data are created equal, understand your data. Know what data you have. What is your critical data that needs to be copied to a secure location? Which data do you need in a different location to analyse? Which data would it be easier to regenerate rather than transfer? You should create a brief data management plan laying this out as this will allow you to understand which tools to use and when.
- Minimise the data you are transferring. Transferring large amounts of data is costly in both researcher time and actual time. Make sure you are only transferring the data you need to transfer.
- Minimise the number of files you are transferring. Each individual file has a static overhead in data transfers so it is efficient to bundle multiple files together into a single large archive file for transfer.
- Does compression help or hinder? Many tools have the option to use compression (e.g.
zip) and generally encourage you to use them to reduce data volumes. However, in some cases, the time spent compressing the data can take longer than actually transferring the uncompressed data; particularly when transferring data between two locations that both have large data transfer bandwidth available.
- Be aware of encryption overheads. When transferring data using
scp) your data will be encrypted introducing a static overhead per file. This issue can be minimised by reducing the number files to be transferred by creating archives. You can also change the encryption algorithm to one that involves minimal encryption. The fastest performing cipher that is commonly available in SSH at the moment is generally
aes128-ctras most common processors provide a hardware implementation.
Creating an uncompressed zip archive and verifying the contents
Using the documentation above, find the command you would use to create an uncompressed zip archive file of all data within a directory called
large_data_output/. What command would you use to verify that the archive file you have created is not corrupt so you can safely delete the original data?
You use the
zipcommand to archive the data. The
-roption is used to perform the operation recursively on a directory and the
-0option is used to specify the archive should be uncompressed:
auser@uan01:~> zip -0r large_data_output.zip large_data_output/
To verify the archive is valid, you would use the
zipcommand again, this time with the
auser@uan01:~> zip -T large_data_output.zip
ARCHER2’s login address is
The password policy for ARCHER2 is well documented.
There are a number of ways to transfer data to/from ARCHER2.